This tale is a cautionary ‘Tale of Arabian Nights’. It was pieced together from information garnered from anecdotal Arabic sources and many internet sites of differing views and opinion. No spice was added, ah, maybe a little baharat.
A long time ago, in a land with shifting, hostile borders plagued by foreign intruders, a boy was born into humble surroundings in the port city. The boy’s mother and father were Sunni Muslim and in keeping with their limited wealth and by their neighbours’ standards, they had a modest number of children. Rafiq was their first born.
He remembered his mother’s consistent explanation when asked why she did not have more children, (for his town was filled with women having babies)……
“Yes, only three, two boys and a girl” she would say and would always add, “You know, we just want the best for each of them and if we had more …they would have less.”
Rafiq was sharp witted young man, with a mind not unlike his younger sister, Bahia. Both would benefit from their parents quests for their education. Bahia, however had neither his personal drive, nor his extraordinary craft to befriend people who could most offer him opportunity. Rafiq could, and would seek succour from ‘friends’ in very high places.
As a youth, Rafiq lived a very ‘ordinary’ life but dreamed each night of bigger, better things to come. He attended the university in the capital, where he learned accounting and where he would meet his first wife. A wife would bring the prestige of manhood, essential if Rafiq was to make good in this life. What’s more he thought she was very pretty and would look perfect on his arm. Now with wife and education under his belt so to speak, he felt he had completed his first steps towards building the wealth he always imagined for his family. His would start a dynasty.
Counting other people’s money was never how Rafiq saw his future, if he had money to count it would be his own. Thus, when opportunity came to travel to a nearby Kingdom, he grabbed it with both hands and traveled with his wife and his enthusiasm to the Kingdom. In this new land, Kings and Princes bathed in money. They were Sunni too, which made his quest all that much easier, as his homeland was fraught with religious backbiting.
He was soon to find the truth was as he always suspected – money brings great opportunity to do what you want to do, sometimes it brings things Allah would never approve. But Rafiq was to find this to his advantage, the extravagances of others would fuel his fortune . He left his teaching job and moved to set up a business for himself. The Kingdom was wealthy and the time was right for him to help them build it.
Such were the extravagances of his friend the Prince. It was later said that the Prince fathered more than 100 children from more than 30 women. Did he divorce to marry others once he had four? No matter, his list of extras was longer than his list of legitimate wives. He was also to eventually rule in the Kingdom, where illegitimate children would have exactly the same rights as bastards, which most thought extremely fair, particularly the King, advantaged as he was by wealth and position.
But this was not the business of Rafiq, who was drawn like the bee to the Kingdom’s nectar of wealth– this would be where he would make his honey and be a real businessman. He would work hard, make friends with Princes, build them opulent constructions in no time at all and with perseverance he would make his own wealth in exchange.
His gift of wooing people of influence found fertile ground in this land. He saw the Prince’s and Sheik’s need to create around themselves a landscape of towers and glass that reflected their newly found wealth and to transform what was once desert. The black gold deep under the Kingdom’s sand would transform the lives of few in the Kingdom as much as the Princes.
Rafiq did not bother himself with this other than to put it to use so he could gain their trust. In the true aspect of his entrepreneurial-ship he recognised one important thing. The Kingdom’s workers came as poor from lesser lands, they worked long hours for little pay. Rafiq had no issue with this, and saw in this feudal system as something he too could benefit from. After all, a company who’s workers are cheap and readily replaceable will do well in such a place. His efficiency would build on their backs.
His own country seemed forever at war and much as he said he loved his country, he loved the thrill of making money and powerful contacts more. He remained in the Kingdom to build his business. Rafiq’s first son was born and he felt a good wind blowing in his favour. He was now an entrepreneur, thanks to his hard work, perseverance and some would say ethics. But ethics are in the eye of the beholder and the backs of poor workers supported his projects. There is also a tale in these lands that says “Never ask a man how he made his first million!”
Now it came to be, that Rafiq’s business in building brought him a number of successful projects from rich Princes close to the king. The Prince who would be King had his eye on Rafiq’s capacity to build large and modern buildings in what was said to be ‘no time!’. The Prince also had his eye on Rafiq’s beautiful wife and so it was, in an exchange smooth as the silk underwear she would now wear, that a deal was cut between the two men, details of which would die with them both.
The powerful Prince trusted Rafiq’s discretion and Rafiq’s legendary skills to forge, maintain, and nurture useful connections was put to the ultimate test. The philandering Prince had no such discretion, but his power and finances meant your head would not remain on your shoulders should your lips speak of it.
So Rafiq built beautiful hotels in record time while the Prince played and slept with his wife. The Prince soon became King and his power was formalised. Their relationship forged Rafiq when quized it would only ever repeat,
“The meat on my shoulder is from the King”.
Some say Rafiq achieved the impossible. His name was now etched on the Kingdom’s accounting ledgers. A second son, was born to Rafiq’s wife. They called the boy Saad meaning ‘blessedness’ and ‘happiness’. Saad would carry Rafiq’s name and the blood of a King. The bond with the King and his Kingdom was certainly a blessed one that would make Rafiq’s family all wealthy beyond imagination.
Some say Rafiq was ‘concerned’ about the ongoing strife in his own country and that he never forgot where he came from. They say he was a ‘behind-the-scenes’ mediator, advisor, a promoter of cease-fires and agreements to end the wars in his original home. He was seen by both his birth and adopted country as a strong negotiator. Rafiq was heard to once to say-
“Money is a negotiation tool, I use it as a plumber uses a wrench to stop a leak or a sculptor uses a chisel to fashion a block of wood.”
But when, eighteen years after moving to the Kingdom, his company worked on the removal of destroyed buildings, opening of streets and roads littered with roadblocks and sand bags, in his homeland, this led others say he was just another profiteer of war – It was all business, money and prestige and the Kingdom had much to gain from the support they gave to Rafiq.
Rafiq would later divorce his first wife, take a second wife and father more children, he would lose his third son to a car accident in a far away country of cowboys, dollars and something called Starbucks. He would broker a ‘tentative peace’ in his birthland where many guilty criminals were ‘recycled’ to govern and reconstruct, no community nor religion in his land had been spared the ravages of war. Rafiq was to move back home after 28 years in the Kingdom to become his country’s leader. He was the Kingdom’s man in his original country.
A country that remained influenced and chained on its many sides by foreign control, would be led by a man whose money came from the most wealthy Princes in the region. He would multiply his own wealth as his country’s leader, he would put his land into serious debt and manage a tentative ‘peace’ in a land of trouble. He would make powerful friends and powerful enemies.
Was it bearded enemies that blew up his vehicle while he rode in a cavalcade through the capital? For even as a Sunni his ways were perceived as decadent by the rising tide of Wahabism both in the Kingdom and in his original land. The irony was that his friend the King is said to have sought to appease his people and his soul of his gambling decadence and philandering by gifting obscene amounts of money to build Islamist schools and groups. The same groups that were to engage in violent jihad across the Middle East.
After five terms as leader Rafiq retired from his position.
His money could not save him from a violent death. Some still needed him dead. The 1000 kg equivalent to TNT bomb, made a crater as huge as a small lake in the middle of town. Some say it was his attitude to those others considered, recalcitrant and corrupt ‘friends’ – smiling assassins, who had benefited from his blind eye on corruption and refusal to rid his country of their influence and military support, others say ‘it was a result of conspiracy and intrigue sewn by the hand wringing tribes’ who had earlier invaded, continued to have speculative interests and needed to blame the beards or the ‘friends’ in order to set the world ready for a course of destruction by the recalcitrant.
No matter who did it, Rafiq was blown to dust. I year after Rafiq’s death his family inherited 16 Billion dollars between them. Perhaps his end was karmic given what one man described as his willingness to sacrifice allies to achieve political ends. The strange unanswered thing was that the amount of money he left had grown by four times in that year since his death.
If history is written by the victor it is not written yet.
Saad followed his ‘father’ as head of the company which by now had grown to billions under his fathers entrepreneurial skills- it was huge, involved in banking, real estate, oil, industry, and communications. Saad in true dynastic form also became leader of his father’s country, for Saad was not born there he was born in the Kingdom, he remained as leader for 18 months until his government collapsed. For as it is said “the seed may not match the tree”. He then left the country on self imposed exile for less hostile climes in France and the Kingdom.
His ‘father’ has hard shoes to fit. Maybe Saad is just more like his zygote father. Saad returned to Rafiq’s homeland three years later, again with the Kingdom’s money in his hand. Investigation into his father’s death remained unresolved and it appeared to many Saad wanted to lead his fathers country again (with the Kingdom’s support and a list of incomplete tasks).
Rafiq…………………….Rafiq Hariri billionaire Lebanese entrepreneur
Lebanon’s longest serving PM
His first wife…………..Nida Bustani (Iraqi roots from Lebanon)
The Kingdom………….Saudi Arabia
The Prince……………..Now deceased King FAHD bin Abdul Aziz
who would be King
The son Saad…………Saad Hariri dual Saudi/Lebanese citizen
Lebanese PM, 9 November 2009 – 13 June 2011
The STL, Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an International Tribunal formed with headquarters on the outskirts of The Hague, the Netherlands and an office in Beirut, Lebanon. It was formed in March 2009. with the primary mandate to hold trials for the people accused of carrying out the attack of 14 February 2005 which killed 22 people, including the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and injured many others.
IT IS STILL PROCEEDING!
Saad Hariri -Daily Star Lebanon reported on 13/8/2014
“Although the return of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to instigate negotiations aimed at resolving the presidential vacuum, eyes are focused on the nature of the meetings Hariri will hold with political factions.
Hariri, who returned Friday after three years of self-imposed exile, is expected to oversee the spending of a $1 billion grant from Saudi Arabia aimed at deterring terrorism in Lebanon.” see in new window here
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures upon his arrival at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Friday, Aug 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO
ALGERIA. Algiers. Arab Summit opening. 1988. King FAHD bin ABDUL AZIZ…
A man walks past a poster depicting Lebanon’s assassinated former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, in downtown Beirut: Reuters
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